STRATFOR: “Iran will likely continue to take advantage of the low-level protests and unrest in Azerbaijan and not take more decisive steps as it focuses more of its attention on the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula states”

STRATFOR: “Iran will likely continue to take advantage of the low-level protests and unrest in Azerbaijan and not take more decisive steps as it focuses more of its attention on the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula states”
# 12 March 2011 09:25 (UTC +04:00)
Baku – APA. Within the cooperation program between US-based global intelligence company STRATFOR and APA, the company’s experts analyze some issues at the APA’s request. According to APA, STRATFOR experts consider that
the most strategic aspect of the current wave of unrest is what is taking place in the Persian Gulf region. “This is where a historic Sunni-Shia balance of power is completely in flux. The balance was thrown off with the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, which presented Iran with a historic opportunity to secure its western flank and expand Shiite influence into the heart of the Arab world. Now, the US is withdrawing from the region, leaving open a vacuum that Iran has been waiting to fill. Then when that is layered on by wave of uprisings, Iran has a perfect opportunity to use the North Africa unrest as a cover for a wider destabilization campaign in the Persian Gulf region -- specifically, against states like KSA, Kuwait, Bahrain, all of which have significant Shiite population and house significant US military installations. This is why the sustaining of unrest in Bahrain is key. Iran has significant levers in the island country that it has been using to block negotiations between the opposition and the ruling Khalifa family. Bahrain is the flashpoint - if Iran can seriously destabilize that country in favor of the Shia, it can produce a cascade effect in the region at a most critical time - when the US needs to militarily extricate itself from the region and when the Sunni Arab states are in dire need of an effective counterbalance to Iran”, said the analysts.

STRATFOR experts analyzed the Azerbaijan-Iran relations at the APA’s request.
“While Iran can take more decisive steps in causing unrest in Azerbaijan, it will be careful not to go too far in provoking instability in the country. Already we have seen Iran take advantage of the hijab ban, use certain Iranian media outlets to hype unrest and discontent in Azerbaijan, and encourage opposition groups such as the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan (AIP) to become more active. This has caused stirrings of dissent within Azerbaijan, but has so far not appeared to threaten the regime in Baku in any serious fashion. If Iran were to grow significantly bolder in provoking Azerbaijan, this could get outside powers - namely Russian - involved, and could backfire on Iran and it’s own interests. Therefore Iran will likely continue to take advantage of the low-level protests and unrest and not take more decisive steps as it focuses more of its attention on the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula states”.

STRATFOR does not see any dramatic change in the political landscape in Iran: “The opposition movement in Iran is not representative of the wider population and has not been able to mobilize the masses against the regime yet. The regime so far has done an effective job of delegitimizing the opposition’s leadership and in keeping the unrest contained. Iran is definitely wary of outside powers meddling with its minority populations, including the Azeris, the Kurds, the Baloch and the Ahvazi Arabs. The Iranians are putting their guard up, but it doesn’t seem like they’re about to miss this historic opportunity in the surrounding region either”, said the STRATFOR experts.
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